Winston Wei Dou

Dissecting Bankruptcy Frictions

Joint with Lucian Taylor, Wei Wang, Wenyu Wang

Journal of Financial Economics Forthcoming, November 2020

How efficient is corporate bankruptcy in the U.S.? Two frictions, asymmetric information and conflicts of interest among creditors, can cause several inefficiencies: excess liquidation, excess continuation, and excess delay. We find that the bankruptcy process is quite inefficient, mainly due to excess delay. Eliminating information asymmetries would increase average total payouts by 4%, and eliminating conflicts of interest would increase them by 18% more. Without these frictions, 14% more cases would be resolved pre-court, and the remaining court cases would be 73% shorter. With less delay, bankruptcy’s indirect costs would be much lower. In contrast, inefficiencies from excess liquidation and excess continuation are quite small.